Art Exhibit 'Deconstruction' Dedicated to a Mother's Experience With Breast Cancer

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Alex Mallonee and his mother, the late Joyce Mallonee, sit in chairs on a green lawn as they pose for a photo.
Alex Mallonee and his mother, the late Joyce Mallonee, sit in chairs posing for a photo in their backyard in Lafayette. (Alex Mallonee)

On Oct. 4, 2020, filmmaker Alex Mallonee's mother Joyce passed after a 25-year battle with breast cancer.

In the final years of Joyce's life, she and Alex, along with seven other artists, worked on an art exhibition about her experience with cancer.

The show, Deconstruction opens Wednesday, Jan. 20, at the Jennifer Perlmutter Gallery in Lafayette, and runs through Jan. 24, which would've been Joyce's 70th birthday.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Joyce was educated in visual art. , but never worked professionally. In the exhibition, artists honor her ideas and bring her visions to life.

The show is composed of mixed-media pieces, collages and portraits, all pertaining to breast cancer and Joyce's story directly; there's even a dress decorated with pills.


The appointment-only exhibition takes attendees through some of Joyce's experiences, from denial to humor, as well as many of the "mechanisms for coping with cancer" that she explored.

Alex says the goal of the show, which will soon be a virtual exhibition as well, is to create community with others who've lost loved ones to cancer. In an interview with the East Bay Times, Alex recalls his mother saying to him last year, "If one person could walk away from Deconstruction feeling less alone, that is what I want this to do."

A portrait photo of the late Joyce Mallonee.
A portrait of the late Joyce Mallonee. (Alex Mallonee)

Alex admits he had trouble talking to his mother when she was first diagnosed with cancer, but through working on this exhibition, the two grew closer. Even now that she has passed, Alex says their work together is aiding his ability to heal.

“It feels right," says Alex, "even though she’s not there, we get to celebrate her... This is serving essentially as her memorial, too.”

'Deconstruction' runs Jan. 20–24 at the Jennifer Perlmutter Gallery in Lafayette, and can be seen on an appointment-only basis. Details here.